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Sasha Blackmore

Sasha Blackmore


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Planning law

Sasha advises on all aspects of planning and compulsory purchase law and appears regularly in the High Court, Court of Appeal and inquiries and hearings. 

Over the past 5 years, Sasha has developed particular expertise in housing cases particularly High Court challenges and advising on matters relating to a five year housing land supply.  She was instructed in one of the first cases to have considered the operation of s.106B of the TCPA 1990.   Sasha also has a range of experience in enforcement cases, ranging from enforcement inquiries to obtaining a committal order.  Her clients include major institutions, local authorities, central Government, major housebuilders, and small and large NGOs.  

Sasha also has a marine practice in planning law, having advised on marine aspects of DCOs, and acts regularly for the MMO in relation to marine licences for planning developments (and other development).

Sasha frequently advises local authorities on planning law claims which have been issued against them.  She gives practical advice as to the prospects of success, recognising when a case should be robustly defended and where it is in a council’s best interests to concede swiftly or reach other appropriate settlement, limiting costs.  In 2015-2016 for example a number of cases have been conceded on her advice at an early stage with no order for costs against the Local Authority concerned, and other cases potential Claimants have not issued claims on receipt of the Defendant’s response to the pre-action protocol letter before claim.   Local authorities Sasha has advised since 2015 include Bath and North East Somerset, St Albans, Southwark, Camden, Stroud, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Maldon.

Recent/ongoing High Court challenges and advisory work (2015-2016) includes:

 Sasha advises on a wide range of planning matters.  Advisory work in 2015-2016 includes:

  • Advising on basement construction and the new GPDO;
  • Advising on housing land supply issues for local authorities including in relation to the cross-boundary provision and the duty to co-operate;
  • Advising local authorities on their five year housing land supply issue and other strategic matters relating to housing generally, in the context of specific appeals to the Inspectorate, and in the High Court;
  • Advising on Assets of Community Value and associated planning implications, including on specific challenges in the High Court;
  • Advising local groups on resisting the expansion of Government infrastructure projects in the Greenbelt (which led to the relevant project being withdrawn;
  • Advising a number of Parish Councils and individuals on matters relating to Neighbourhood Plans, including by way of judicial review challenge
  • Viability advice on housing schemes;
  • Urgent Article 4 directions;
  • Advising on specific aspects of the new GPDO;
  • Primary school expansions;
  • Implementations of complex planning permissions;
  • EIA assessments, including retrospective EIA assessment of major development;
  • Advising major and minor developers on aspects of housebuilding;
  • Advising on Listed Buildings matters in the context of both planning applications and judicial review / statutory challenges;
  • Waste and energy matters; see environmental practice.

Older cases and advisory work (prior to 2015) include:

  • Sasha has appeared for and against developers seeking planning permission for housing developments and advised on related housing aspects, including at both public inquiries and in the High Court.   In addition to those 2015-2016 cases listed above, she also appeared in older cases interpreting the NPPF and the relevance of settlements lines, e.g. Langton Homes Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014] EWHC 487 (Admin), which is an issue which regularly comes up in her planning practice.   She has been advising Oxford University into a major scheme (led by Rupert Warren) (2015-2016).   She has appeared at inquiries and advised on housing developments impacting on protected habitats areas, where she has a particular interest, and sensitive woodland sites. She was led by Christopher Lockhart-Mummery QC in CPRE (Wiltshire Branch) v Swindon Borough Council (acting for the developer) (permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal refused in 2010).
  • Sasha has advised on the protection of ancient woodland, as well as in relation to the protection of specific species, in the context of major development (for both developers and local authorities).  Species Sasha has advised in relation to planning issues include Great Crested Newts, Bats, Dormice, and nesting birds.  She also has experience of “green bridges” and green walls.
  • Sasha advises on highways law.  She has been instructed on a number of highways cases, including for the Highways Agency on a major road scheme (led by John Litton QC) and also independently. She has also appeared for local Councils (both in relation to impact on the local road networks from house building and in relation to certification under s.17 of the Land Compensation Act) and advises regularly on matters relating to the road network including impacts, adoption of roads as public roads, and permitted development rights on highways.
  • Advising and acting in claims for injunctive relief and associated committal proceedings in environmental (planning enforcement) and gypsy matters (2009-2010), including obtaining a suspended prison sentence order which finally enabled a Council to enforce clearance of a site of tens of thousands of tonnes of waste where enforcement action had been ongoing for over a decade (2010).  Sasha acted in 2015 in Reilly v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council where the High Court upheld a planning inspector’s decision to refuse consent for development of a caravan site adjacent to a main road where two individuals were killed because of poor visibility at the junction despite DMRB standards being met.
  • Older important EIA caselaw.  Sasha advised in Bowen-West v SSCLG and others [2012] EWCA Civ 321, permission was refused by the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal decision. Important case as to the proper scope of the EIA Directive as to what is a “project” and the approach to cumulative, secondary and indirect effects (led by Richard Drabble QC).  She also appeared in  R (on the application of Bateman) v (1) South Cambridgeshire District Council and (2) Camgrain Storage Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 157 (Mummery, Moore-Bick and Jackson L.JJ) At first instance: ([2010] EWHC 797 (Admin) – an important EIA case which was successful in the Court of Appeal (led by Richard Drabble QC).  Sasha also advised in R (on the application of Carroll) v Westminster City Council [2010] EWHC 2019 (Admin), a challenge to the Mayor’s cycle scheme, which had not carried out an EIA.
  • Older climate change and air quality law.  Sasha advised and appeared in R (on the application of Griffin) – v –  (1) London Borough of Newham  and (2) London City Airport Limited [2011] EWHC 53 (Admin) (Pill LJ, Roderick Evans J) Acted for local residents, led by Nathalie Lieven QC and instructed by Friends of the Earth Rights & Justice Centre, in a challenge to the doubling of capacity at London City Airport on consultation and climate change grounds.
  • Older s.106 agreement caselaw.  Milebush Properties Ltd – v  - (1) Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council and (2) the Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Hillingdon [2010] EWHC 1022 (Ch) (before Arnold J) appealed to the Court of Appeal in Milebush Properties Ltd v Tameside Metropolitan BC [2011] EWCA Civ 270 (Mummery, Moore-Bick and Jackson L.JJ.) Sasha acted for the local planning authority in an important case as to the scope of declaratory relief in s.106 agreements, and was also successful in achieving indemnity costs for the local planning authority.
  • Sasha has also appeared in a variety of small and medium-sized householder appeals in relation to the construction of new dwellings and replacement dwellings in the countryside for both local planning authorities, and individuals, 2010-2015, and enforcement notice matters. Various smaller (1-2 day) public inquiries defending the refusal of permission and/or issues of Enforcement Notices, particularly in relation to impact on AONBs, Green Belts, householder extensions, agricultural uses (including for agricultural dwellings, alpacas and poultry farming) and Listed Buildings, as well as on impacts of the Birds Directive.
  • Prosecuting for various local councils in relation to enforcement notices and stop notices and defending private clients for breach of enforcement notices.  Sasha’s current enforcement practice is predominantly in the High Court, but Sasha has appeared in courts throughout London and the South-East, including at committal proceedings.   In the past few years she has appeared in courts in Brent, Didcot, Hackney, Horsham, Uxbridge, Wandsworth, and Waltham Forest.
  • Sasha has an expertise in playing fields in two different planning appeals (successfully defended).

Sasha spent her first year of tenancy as a Judicial Assistant to the Law Lords (Lord Scott of Foscote, Baroness Hale of Richmond and Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury), working on cases before both the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords and the Privy Council. She gained substantial experience of appellate advocacy and judicial practice during that year.  Cases she worked on in the House of Lords as a judicial assistant included, R v. London Borough of Bromley, ex parte Barker, [2006] UKHL 52 and Belfast City Council v Miss Behavin Limited [2007] UKHL 19.

She is also a member of the Planning & Environmental Bar Association, and the Environmental Law Foundation and the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (formerly a Director and Council Member).